I hope I haven’t lost you at anchovy. Alison Roman is a lot more than viral recipes. anchovies and her controversial interweb spat with Chrissy Teigen.. but it’s all people seem to hark back to in every interview. I don’t think you can call ‘viral recipes’ a shtick and you can’t really ask what is the secret, as by their nature – they take hold unexpectedly. By her own reckoning, Roman has a lot of better recipes than the stew, her roasted tomato and anchovy bucatini being a case in point.
I am a sucker for a good tomato sauce. The excellent slurp of a perfectly balanced, deeply savoury red sauce and spaghetti. It is a cliché of every American-Italian character in every thing ever. A great red sauce though, just like mamma used to make, is essential in your repertoire. I tend to favour Marcella Hazan’s three ingredient recipe for east, tomatoes, butter and a peeled onion, simmered together until delectable. There’s no chopping so it is EASY. If you’re looking for a more involved red sauce, the roasted tomato and anchovy bucatini is the other end of the spectrum to Hazan’s.
The decent quality tomatoes are first slow cooked in the oven, in a LOT of olive oil. I specify decent because it makes a big difference to the potency of the sauce, so it’s worth splashing out a bit. The slow roast in olive oil – really just confit – concentrates the tomatoes’ flavour and leaves them somewhere between fresh and sun-dried. At this point, the tomatoes can be used for anything, they’re bloody delicious.
Waste not ,want not
This recipe uses a lot of olive oil but it can be bottled back up for other uses. it takes on all the wonderful tomato and herb flavour. Use it to roast croutons, to drizzle over salads, or to make strapatsada and you won’t be sorry.
Once your tomatoes are made, which can be done days ahead, the rest of the sauce is quite orthodox. Fry onions (preferably the delicious tomato cooking oil), add anchovies, add tomato paste, add your drained slow roast tomatoes and leave to simmer until your sauce thickens. Add the cooked pasta to the pan with some of the starchy water. Swirl about over the heat until the sauce sticks to the pasta. Top with parmesan, or some pangrattato if you don’t do dairy.
The bucatini isn’t strictly necessary, spaghetti will do in these trying times. I like the extra slurpy-ness of bucatini if you can get it though.
I reckon you could replace the savouriness of the anchovy with a a half a dozen black olives blitzed with a tsp of marmite – but this is untested and if you are able to eat anchovies, you should do it properly.